The bitter sibling rivalry for control over Knight Oil Tools may very well have its roots in Bryan Knight protecting his older brother, Mark, from bullies in the schoolyard, the younger Knight tells New York Magazine in a story detailing the collapse of the then-largest privately owned oil equipment rental company in the world, worth an estimated $800 million.
The story, entitled “Cain and Abel and Oil,” details the elaborate conspiracy in Lafayette by Mark Knight to frame his brother using cocaine, painkillers, a henchman and two corrupt cops. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to public bribery and corrupt influencing, and was sentenced in February to a year in the parish jail, with the caveat that he was eligible for the alternative sentencing program. The magazine notes that allowed him to spend one day in jail, then be sent home wearing an ankle monitor.
Knight Oil Tools has since merged with IronGate Energy Services to form Knight Energy Services, and is based in Houston. In April, SLEMCO announced on its Facebook page it had purchased the company’s former headquarters near the Lafayette Airport “for just pennies on the dollar.”
New York touts the tale as a “brotherly parable” about “how ruthless that rivalry can become among the second-generation inheritors of great wealth, no longer striving to build an empire but only to hold the one they were born into.” As an example, it describes Mark Knight’s “wild spending spree” after the 2002 death of his father, Knight Oil Tools founder Eddy Knight.
“He built a $6 million mansion in an upscale Lafayette subdivision, bought a $1 million Prevost bus for tailgating, a Ford F650 Supertruck, a fleet of BMWs for him and his wife, and houses and apartments for his children,” the magazine notes. “He secured a private hangar at the Lafayette Regional Airport to house his brand-new $35 million Challenger 300 private jet (for which he hired two pilots and was buying 4,000 gallons of fuel per month) and a $2 million MD500 helicopter, The Little Bird, a rig originally developed for special operations by the Army. He tried to upgrade his private jet to a $50 million long-range Dassault Falcon so he could fly to Iraq without stopping for fuel, but the purchase was shot down when Ann Knight, the matriarch and deciding vote on the board, sided instead with Bryan and Kelley, who were beginning to form a sort of alliance against their wildly profligate bulldozer of a brother.”
The story goes on to note additional lavish spending, noting that Mark Knight “didn’t pay for all this stuff out of his own pocket. Many of the purchases were charged to the company. And sometimes, instead, Mark would just boost his salary, which was already well into the millions.”